The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Analyzing the labor hierarchy at the Bear


By Ingrid Meulemans

As one of the largest facilities on campus, the Charles Benson Bear ’39 Recreation and Athletic Center offers a range of employment opportunities for student workers.

Mikyla Murphy ’19 is one of the student supervisors at the Bear. On a day-to-day basis, she works at the Cage, coordinating with other part-time workers and managing schedules.

Based on the way that labor at the Bear is currently organized, reliable student workers are a necessary for the functioning of the facility.

Although they are usually seen seated at the main welcome desk or the check-in station in the fitness center, students also work from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. in the Cage, the equipment rental room, and serve as lifeguards in the pool area. Lifeguards are part of a separate employment system, and their scheduling is not included within Murphy’s responsibilities.

However, Murphy is not solely in charge of the workers in the Cage. Similar to the other student employees, she answers to a full-time supervisor, Roger Bauman. According to Murphy, having a supervisor helps alleviate some of the pressure associated with her position. Murphy admits that her job as student supervisor is “stressful” because she needs to “make sure people are there even if it’s not my shift.”

Having someone with a little more authority comes in handy in the rare situations where Murphy would have to discipline a student worker. According to Bauman, the Bear uses a “two-strike” system to discipline workers. While they have had no behavioral problems with workers, there are sometimes unexcused absences.

“Our biggest problem with the student workers is not showing. I don’t mind if they don’t show up if they tell me ahead of time, and none of the other supervisors do either, but so many times they just don’t show up without telling us,” said Bauman. “If that’s the case then we send them a notice that says if it happens again, we’ll have to consider their employment here.”

A student getting two strikes, however, is a rare occurrence. Bauman attests to the reliability of both the student workers and student leaders, saying that, “they are all self-sufficient and there’s very little for me to have to look after.”

Murphy and Bauman’s positive opinions of the Bear’s working environment were echoed by one of their student workers. James Msekela ’20 works in the Cage and at the front desk of the fitness center. Msekela stated that Bauman and Murphy are “fantastic”. He was also insistent on how “amazing” of a boss Bauman is: “he is always nice, and is always asking about us.”

The one flaw that Msekela did find in the Bear’s labor hierarchy was that the expectations of who student workers should contact first are sometimes confusing. Msekela admits that if he does have a question or a problem, the next steps aren’t very clear regarding whether or not he should contact Murphy or Bauman.

“[I] often try to reach out to [Bauman] because I’m super comfortable with him. He’s also higher up so whatever it is he could get it done a little quicker,” Msekela said.

While students like Murphy are technically in charge of other workers, the general environment of the Bear is very team-oriented.

“I have been very fortunate that I have had exceptional student lead workers, and if you have good helpers it just makes the job go so much better,” said Bauman.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *